Friday, 5 February 2010

Machu Picchu - Christmas 2009

Machu Picchu, Peru
The longest I have ever walked at the highest altitude I have ever been. Rain and early mornings. The most basic Christmas any of you have ever experienced....all just to experience a white out at the top of Machu Picchu!!!

Machu Picchu |ˌmä ch oō ˈpi(k) ch oō|
a fortified Inca town in the Andes Mountains in Peru that the invading Spaniards never found. It is noted for its dramatic position, perched high on a steep-sided ridge.
Perched higher then I have climbed before and after a 3 day trek, up and over mountains in the rain, wind and the early/late hours of the day, it is no wonder that we were all jumping for joy! Just a wee group of 5 - the 3 Belgium physiotherapists, Olivia and myself had trekked approximately 35km through the jungle to reach the glorious summit of Huayna Picchu overlooking MP and Aguas Calientes.
Cycling in the rain is no fun at all but when your 4km up and thrashing down a Peruvian road where road rules are almost non existent you start to think to yourself about those important things in life…like does my travel insurance cover stupidity?! About 30 minutes into our down hill madness the pin was pulled (by the girls first) to scamper back into the van and head to our accommodation. Brendan you would be proud to know I was the last one off the bike, but then considering the whole group were females and one Belgium male I guess its not that big of a deal.

Christmas Day (2009) was the most extreme...5am wake up call with no presents or even a Christmas tree. A taxi ride in the only available taxi in the town which luxury items such as fuel and the 4WD option were non existent! After a few hours in the van the mud path on the side of the mountain had narrowed too much for these extremist so we had to leg it the rest of the way. A mere 27km walk at an altitude of approximately 3000 meters whilst the heavens above were bucketing down all throughout the morning finally we came to a refuge...a small mud hut where the local farmer had been waiting with his family so lunch could be made and served to these weary travelers. Not the most appetizing Christmas lunch I have had but at least the fire was warm and since the hut was only 9m2 the 11 of us made it nice an cosy instantly. We dried our clothes while we waited for our soup and pasta to be made up (2 hour wait due to a slightly substandard kitchen) passing the time by snapping up some interesting shots of the farmers children playing with tomorrow nights dinner...the Guinea Pigs!

After dinner we hit the hay as tomorrow evolved another long hike. An unanimous decision the next day to source out a taxi to take us half the way was a brilliant call all round! Would have been better though if it hadn’t rained all throughout the night causing many mud slides and avalanches to take out our vehicular route! Legging it yet again....

After a good 5hrs of hiking we reached the base of MP - Aguas Calientes. That night we enjoyed some much deserved beverages and a bloody good feed!
Four AM wake up call so that we could get our asses down to the bus stop which we had decided to do instead of the walk due to those much deserved beverages only the night before. We were lucky enough to get the last seats on the 1st bus, or so we thought! As for the Peruvian Way our bus went straight past the drop off zone to give way for bus No. 2. Didn't make any sense after we had scored the position at the front of the queue that was a good few hundred deep but we had learnt not too argue and just get on with it. So with the No. 2 bus in front of us and the odd few hundred who opted to wake up at 3AM and walk up to MP we were very lucky to get tickets in the high 200's as this now enabled us entry to Huayna Picchu. Due to the hoards of tourist trampling up the steep and decaying Inca Trail leading up to HP over the last few decades, a limit has been set to only allow the 1st 400 people in to MP to be allowed up to HP. After a 3 days of hiking, cycling, tear's and beers we had made it and it was well were all the trouble!! The view was out of this world. That is after the fog and mist had cleared which we thought may have been set in for the day. A good 5 hours spent wandering around the ruins and up HP then a quick exit due to some rain, a few hour train/bus ride and we were back in Cusco!

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  1. Good stuff! Nice to see the long-awaited blog finally up and running. Didn't think you'd be able to drag yourself outta the pub long enough to do it but ... ahem! Yeah, anyway, congratulations.
    Looking forward to the penguin pics!

  2. Peru sounds like an extraordinary place.